industry needs to adapt to embrace the changes to come

Laura Behan, Account Director


On Tuesday, BARB hosted an event named ‘Understanding viewers in the 2020s’ which was attended by a variety of people from the across the industry including agencies, clients, TV contractors and OFCOM. Having worked in the TV industry for nearly 10 years I was excited at the prospect of new insight, updated data panels and learning lots about TV reporting in the next decade.

The session was kick started by Matthew Guest, Head of Digital Strategy Practice at Deloitte who took us on a journey to understand the general viewing landscape over the next ten years. This section didn’t showcase any major surprises with lots of hypotheses on subscription on-demand services, VR headsets and driver-less cars. In the end he reassured the audience that whilst we have lots of new tech coming into the market the reality of one of these catapulting the TV landscape into turmoil is very unlikely. So, this was a positive start for someone who works in TV advertising.

Doug Whelpdale, Insight Manager at BARB, led by far the most interesting section for a TV planner which delved a little deeper into Project Dovetail. He showcased some of the new reporting capabilities including 4-screen viewing. For example, this allows us to show how many adults in the UK watched The Great British Bake Off via their TV screen, laptop, tablet or smart phone.

This is a great win for TV contractors who can now calculate total viewing to a programme regardless of when they watched (within a 28-day window) and on what device. However, I must caveat at this stage that we are still (if not 10 years) far away from being able to see how audiences are consuming TV content across all devices, all channels against an individual brand using BARB data.

The final section of the session was a panel discussion, whom discussed a variety of topics looking ahead over the next 10 years. The main sticking point for me was introduced by Rhiannon Murphy, Head of TV, the7stars and this was around the industry adapting to change. We all rely on BARB who are the impartial reporting body, however in order for them to provide different reporting metrics/insights we need the industry as a whole to change. Agencies and TV broadcasters need to work together to ensure we are capturing all TV viewing regardless of where and when it happens.

Project Dovetail – which is the starting point for the industry – has been spoken about for the past 5 years (if not longer). Yet the stark reality is that we can’t wait another 5 years to showcase to our clients the full TV viewing landscape.

Linear TV viewing is on a slow decline but when we include on-demand, pre-broadcast, mobile, tablet and laptop viewing, overall TV consumption remains steady. But as an industry we are yet to combine all this viewing behaviour. We know the TV viewing landscape has changed but what is the industry doing to ensure TV advertising is changing alongside it? I believe there are a few solutions which may help combat the perception of ‘no-one watches TV anymore’ mentality.

We need to agree to an industry joint currency that can be used across linear, on-demand, addressable and any other form of TV viewing. We need the TV contractors to educate agencies and clients on viewing trends within their own saleshouse. We need both agencies and TV contractors to sell audiences not platform.

At Republic of Media we embrace change and are ensuring we take responsibility to understand the changing TV landscape.

We work closely with our communications planning team to make sure customers are at the core of all our media planning and buying. We are excited to be part of the changing TV viewing landscape as it evolves over the next 10 years. Our Freethinking approach enables ROM to be at the forefront of change and adapt quickly and effectively for our clients.